Heather Costa is the Director of Operations for Such A Voice and a full time voice over talent. Over the years Heather has coached & produced hundreds of Such A Voice students. She is an active member of the Voxy Ladies and WoVO (World Voices). Her own voice over roster includes thousands of clients from around the globe. Recent clients include Subway, Skittles, Today’s Parent, Beados Gems, Lowes, the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and eBay. You can visit her website at www.heathercosta.com
An essential skill that every voice-over talent must posses is the ability to audition well. Although you can (and should!) book directly off your demo, you’ll get the majority of your jobs based on an audition. Auditions can be used for many things, such as joining a roster for a production company, or an ad agency. You could be asked to audition in order to be considered for agency representation. You could audition for a one-off job, or to be the voice of a campaign, a product, or the voice of an entire company. Whatever the audition is for, you want to be sure to handle each and every one as if you’ve already booked the job!
Auditions shouldn’t be something that you fit in and rush through. Each audition should have your best performance. Not only does the occasional booked audition become the job (without having to re-record), but if you read the audition as if you’re “trying” to get the job, or throwing it away like you don’t care, it’ll come through in your read. Neither of which will help you in actually booking it.
When you receive an audition script that’s long, you can ask the client or agent if they would like you to record the entire thing. Some will ask you to only select a portion, while others will ask to hear the entire script. If you’re not asked to record the entire script, you don’t necessarily have to start at the beginning. Let’s say you have a 60 second audition script. You can decide to begin recording at :15, if you like that section in your performance better. There’s also a possible advantage to doing that. If most talents are beginning with the first sentence, and then they hear yours that comes in at a different place, you will grab their attention, merely for the fact that it’s different. After listening to audition after audition, something like that could really make you stand out.
It’s a good idea to provide 2-3 takes of an audition script, depending upon the length. Your first read should be the exact specifications of what they’re asking for. Your second read can be more of your interpretation. If it’s a very short script, you may want to consider sending three takes. You shouldn’t say “take 2”, “take 3” between each take. Just leave a small pause and then begin the next take.
Some clients and agents will ask you to slate, or provide a short introduction, while others will specifically tell you not to. If you’re not sure, you can certainly ask. Some clients and agents will specify exactly how they’d like you to slate. When it’s not specified, you could do one of the following: “Name, Agency”, “Name, Agency, Two Takes”, “Name”, “Name, Two Takes.” Your finished audition, if it’s including a slate, should start with the slate, followed by a short pause, and then right into the read.
If you find yourself not connecting with a script, or it’s a character read and you need to become that character, try playing around with your voice ahead of time. Start reading the script really fast, in a funny, over the top kind of way. Or try reading it very monotone and slowly. Bounce back and forth and then go right into your natural read. Don’t over think it, just read. The most important technique skill in voice-over is being present and connected to the copy. Whatever you need to do to get there, go for it. No one else can see you, so don’t hold back.
Next, try not to over-produce your audition. When you’re auditioning, clients are listening for what you can do as a performer, not a producer. If you need to add gain or normalize to make your volume louder, that’s the extent of what you should be doing. Some clients may also be listening for your studio quality sound, especially if they’re looking to work with you long term. Your main focus should be recording in an acoustically sound recording space without any room noise, so you can deliver a clear, edited, finished voice-over. You can certainly leave in breaths, as long as they sound natural and aren’t overly loud. If they are, you can remove them, or just reduce the volume on the breath. If you remove a breath, make sure that you’re not cutting it in the middle, creating a clipping or popping sound, and that you keep the natural spacing, even though the breath is no longer there.
Auditions can be a great way to work the range of your voice. You definitely want to go after things in your wheelhouse, but don’t hesitate to push yourself outside of that either. You won’t know, until you try! Get those auditions back as soon as you can, even if the deadline isn’t ASAP. Often times clients will begin listening to auditions, or agents will submit a first batch, based on what has already come in. Once they hear what they like, they may not listen to anyone else. So do your best to get in front of them quickly.
Keep rockin’ that mic and have fun with those auditions!
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